The Ultimate Wild Guide to Exploring Cape Town, South Africa
Cape Town is a multicultural city of astounding beauty… a patchwork quilt intricately woven with the threads of South African history, mouthwatering cuisine, amazing architecture, fashion and music. And let’s not forget about the iconic landmark of Table Mountain! The city is also becoming one of the most desired places to visit for travelers with outdoor adventure on their minds. Here are 9 not-to- be-missed activities for you to try when you visit the Mother City.
I'm thrilled to have Bianca from My Wild Earth here to talk about traveling in Cape Town!
The Ultimate Wild Guide to Exploring Cape Town, South Africa
Hiking Lion’s Head & Table Mountain
There are numerous hiking trail options in Cape Town, but two of the best hikes to do are up Lion’s Head and Table Mountain. Hiking is a wonderful way to explore and all you need are good shoes, a reliable map (or Google Maps app) and plenty of water. In summer, it's best to hike early in the morning to avoid the sweltering heat and crowds of tourists.
Lion’s Head can’t be reached by cable car, so the only way to the top is by foot. Although this isn't a terribly difficult hike, the climb to the top can be steep, and you’ll need to grab hold of chains at the end to help you ascend. But once you reach the top, sit back in awe of the magnificent 360 degree panoramic view that awaits you will make the effort worthwhile.
Table Mountain has several trails to the top. One of the most popular is Platteklip Gorge, a picturesque hike with a straight, sheer ascent. The trail begins near the cableway station at the base of the mountain and is clearly marked all the way up. If your legs feel like jelly by the time you reach the top and you’re not keen to walk all the way down, you can catch a cable car ride to the bottom.
With the superb climate, outstanding scenery, and excellent exchange rate, Cape Town is a great place to go skydiving. You can make the leap with peace of mind, as drop zones in South Africa are regulated by the Parachute Association of South Africa. This ensures that safety and training are of world-class standard.
Whether you’re an experienced skydiver, a first-time jumper, or want to learn how to skydive on your own, check out the array of centers which provide the latest advice and information on skydiving related events around the Western Cape.
There are several professional seal diving and snorkeling experts who are dedicated to getting you in the water safely with these fantastic creatures. A team of marine guides will share the beauty of the ocean and its most playful mammals with you on this amazing adventure. Cape Fur seals are most active and abundant in the heat of Cape Town’s summer and seal snorkeling in Cape Town happens on the Atlantic
side of the Cape Peninsula at Duiker Island, Hout Bay. Thankfully, this island isn’t known for any Great White shark activity as it’s surrounded by cold water and shallow kelp forests.
South Africa is one of the finest scuba diving destinations on the planet, with many dive sites along its eastern and western coastlines. The slightly warmer Indian Ocean makes False Bay in Cape Town a scuba diver’s paradise – with a good, warm wetsuit, you can explore stunning coral reefs, ghostly shipwrecks, and see sharks, dolphins, seals, and colorful soft coral. If you’re prepared to brave the colder Atlantic Ocean, you’ll be rewarded with mesmerizing kelp forests as well as more shipwrecks and the occasional Southern Right Whale!
Tandem Paragliding is one of the most adventurous ways to see the Mother City. This white-knuckle activity will literally give you a breathtaking view of Cape Town and the surrounding ocean and mountains. There are many paragliding companies to choose from, which usually launch from Signal Hill or Lion’s Head.
Mountain biking is a wonderful way to go wild in Cape Town, whether you are off to explore the terrain of Table Mountain, the forests of Constantia or any of the other natural beauty the area has to offer. Simply hire a bike and do your own thing or book a half day tour to experience an unforgettable adventure on two wheels. Here are some awesome places to go mountain biking in and around Cape Town:
- Table Mountain
- Constantia Greenbelt
- Silvermine Nature Reserve
- Durbanville Hills
- Paarl Mountain Nature Reserve
- Bottelary Hills
- Elgin Valley
- Welvanpas, Wellington
If you’re an adrenaline-seeking tourist who appreciates a good view, this is one activity not to miss! Fly through the trees with the wind in your hair and whizz from one rocky mountain ledge to another. The Cape Town Zipline Tour in Constantia offers one of the longest zip-line routes in Africa, totaling 2.3 kilometers and soaring 155 meters above the ground at the highest point. You can also catch zip-line tours in Elgin, Ceres, and Hermanus.
If surfing is your thing, don’t miss the chance to catch a wave in Cape Town. You’ll find some of the best surfing spots in South Africa here: Muizenberg in False Bay, Llandudno, Long Beach, Glen Beach, and Big Bay on the Atlantic coastline.
Dungeons beach, off Hout Bay, is renowned for its gigantic waves. Winter (June–August) is the best time to surf in the icy Atlantic on the Cape Peninsula side when water temperatures rise by two to three degrees.
Stand-up Paddle Boarding
If keeping your fitness levels up is important to you, stand-up paddle boarding is one adventure that will give you a great workout. This activity is suitable for the whole family and you’ll find several companies in Cape Town that offer rental equipment and lessons at beaches, lakes and canals around the city.
Armed with a list of activities like this, not to mention shark cage diving, whale watching and more, one thing’s for certain – there’s definitely a wild adventure with your name on it in Cape Town. Isn’t it time you started packing?
About the author: My name is Bianca Birgit. Living in Cape Town has been nothing short of a wild adventure with endless trails, mountains, lakes and spectacular oceans. I will always consider it one of the best places in the world to raise a family and will always return for more. Check her blog out at My Wild Earth.